Explore ancient waterways and hike through scenic forests in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.
Sandwiched between Oregon and British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean, Washington state has long been celebrated for its pristine waterways, old-growth forests, soothing hot springs, and epic mountain lakes and peaks. The northwestern-most state in the contiguous 48 is home to three national parks—North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park—along with miles and miles of beautiful coastline and lush temperate islands. While there are abundant opportunities for outdoor exploration in the aptly nicknamed Evergreen State, there’s also plenty for those looking for a bit of indoor appeal, from fine arts and culture museums to fantastic wineries.
Straddling the Puget Sound, this region includes Washington's biggest city--Seattle--and the area around it. While urban adventure takes center stage in this populated region, there are also plenty of spots to commune with nature, and even if you're based in Seattle, you'll have easy access to numerous Washington state parks.
If you want gorgeous Pacific Coast scenery, ancient forests, and whale watching to feature in your next camping trip, the Washington Coast, the Olympic Peninsula, and the state's many islands are just the ticket. Here you’ll find Olympic National Forest and its ancient Hoh Rainforest, plus plenty of small Coastal towns, such as charming Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
This remote section of the state is characterized by old-growth forests, alpine lakes, and ancient glaciers. It’s also the site of North Cascades National Park, an enormous expanse of wilderness that offers mile upon mile of hiking trails and excellent campground and backcountry options for campers.
With a mix of towering mountains, pristine forests, arid prairies, and plenty of cute small towns, Washington's central and eastern stretches offer some of the best camping and outdoor recreation areas in the state. Washington's second-largest city, Spokane, is located in the region, as is the Bavaria-inspired town of Leavenworth, full of German restaurants, beer gardens, and plenty of faux-world kitsch in this region.
The southern part of the state is known for beautiful scenery, snow-capped peaks, and excellent wine. On the Oregon border, the Columbia River Gorge is full of beautiful spots for hikers--come in the spring and you'll be rewarded with spectacular flurries of wildflowers. The region also boasts a few world-class wineries of its own, with more to be found further north and east in Walla Walla and Yakima. The area is also home to Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and its surrounding national park, and Mount Saint Helens, which famously erupted back in 1980.
No, it is not legal to camp anywhere in Washington State without following designated camping areas and guidelines. However, there are designated areas for camping in various public lands, such as national forests, state parks, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Dispersed camping is allowed in certain areas of these public lands, but you must follow specific guidelines and regulations.
For example, in national forests like Olympic National Forest and Gifford Pinchot National Forest, dispersed camping is allowed in designated areas, but you must camp at least 100 feet from any water source and follow the Leave No Trace principles. In Washington State Parks, camping is typically restricted to designated campgrounds and sites. You can find more information on camping in Washington State Parks here.
It's essential to research the specific area you plan to camp in and follow all rules and regulations to ensure you're camping legally and responsibly.
Yes, boondocking is legal in Washington State, primarily on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Boondocking, also known as dispersed camping, is when campers stay outside of developed campgrounds and typically do not have access to amenities like restrooms, water, or electricity. Washington State offers several areas for boondocking, including national forests such as Olympic National Forest, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Always follow the specific rules and regulations for the area you are camping in and practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
In Washington State, you can find free camping in various National Forests and on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Some popular options include:
Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and be aware that amenities are usually not available at these free camping sites.
The cost of camping in a Washington state park varies depending on the type of site and the park's location. On average, you can expect to pay between $12 to $45 per night for a standard tent or RV site. Some parks also offer cabins, yurts, or other accommodations, with prices ranging from $50 to over $100 per night. Additional fees may apply for extra vehicles, utility hookups, or reservation services. You can explore Washington state parks camping options to find the perfect site for your needs.
You can camp on the beach in Washington State in designated areas and campgrounds. Some popular beach camping locations include:
It's essential to follow all regulations and obtain necessary permits when camping on the beach in Washington. Additionally, always practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural beauty of these areas. Find more beach camping in Washington.
For Washington State Parks, you can book camping reservations up to 9 months in advance. This applies to both tent camping and RV camping, as well as cabins and yurts at certain parks. To explore available campgrounds and make reservations, you can visit the Washington State Parks website or the Washington State Parks reservation system. Keep in mind that popular campgrounds can fill up quickly, especially during the peak summer season, so it's a good idea to make your reservations as early as possible.
Yes, a Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to Washington state parks, including those with camping facilities. The Discover Pass is a permit that allows you to visit and park at Washington state parks and recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. However, the pass does not cover camping fees, which are separate and vary depending on the park and type of campsite. You can purchase a Discover Pass online, at any state park, or at various retail locations. The annual pass is $35, and a one-day pass is $11.50.
For more information on camping in Washington state parks, check out Hipcamp.
Yes, Washington is an excellent destination for camping, with its diverse landscapes, including mountains, forests, coastline, and desert. There are numerous campgrounds and parks throughout the state that cater to campers of all interests and experience levels. Some popular options include Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and the North Cascades National Park. Washington also offers a variety of camping experiences, from tent camping and RV camping to cabin rentals and backcountry camping. You can explore the state's lush forests, hike along its many trails, or enjoy water activities on its numerous lakes and rivers. With its temperate climate and stunning natural beauty, Washington is a fantastic choice for camping enthusiasts.
You cannot camp anywhere on the Washington coast, but there are designated campgrounds and parks where you can camp. Washington's coastal areas offer a mix of public and private campgrounds, including state parks, national parks, and private campgrounds. Some popular options include Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park, Pacific Beach State Park, and Ocean City State Park. To explore more camping options on the Washington coast, visit Hipcamp.
Yes, you can camp on the beach along the Washington coast in certain areas. Beach camping in Washington is typically allowed on public lands, such as the Olympic National Park and Washington State Parks. Some popular beach camping spots include: